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Monday, July 21, 2014

Wichita, think you've got talent?

We already know that "America's Got Talent," thanks to NBC's 6-year-old reality show that gives singers, dancers, jugglers, magicians, tumblers and yodelers prime time network exposure.

Now, we're about to find out what kind of wacky talent Wichita's got.

A new fundraiser by the Medical Service Bureau of Sedgwick County is a daylong talent show designed to fill the Orpheum stage with all types of human amazingness.

The Medical Service Bureau was created in 1937 and helps low-income residents of Sedgwick get prescription medication and vision care. Last year, it served 4,390 people.

When it came time to dream up a new fundraiser, the organization's board realized that Wichita had just about every kind of "fest" imaginable — a wine fest, a beer fest, a festival of animals known as Zoobilee.

But it didn't have a fest that would put the lesser-known abilities of residents, from little kids to retirees, on display.

The winner will get a small cash prize and a pretty amazing reward: The chance to perform on stage at Hartman Arena as part of May 21's Summer Jam, featuring Cody Simpson and LMFAO.

"We know a lot of people will go out and sing karaoke and they'll watch these shows like 'America's Got Talent' and think, 'You know, I could do better than that,' " said Lisa Vayda, president of the organization's board of directors and the Talent Fest organizer.

So far, the lineup has several promising contenders, she said, including a group of young singers called Kansas Boyz, a bluegrass band called Good n' Greasy, a few poetry readers, a gymnast and a couple of dancers.

A panel of judges, including area singers and dance instructors, will critique the performances, slated to go on between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre.

The judges will choose the ultimate winner, who will get $250 and the stage time. But spectators also can vote for a people's choice winner with dollars, all of which will go to the cause. That winner also gets $250.

Vayda says her lineup is strong so far, but she's hoping for even more entrants — perhaps even a few offbeat ones. She's willing to take entrants through Wednesday.

She has only a few rules. Acts must be family friendly and be able to prove that they're amateurs.

"The only thing we say is 'No professionals,' " she said. "If you have an agent and a contract, you're a professional."

Surely there's a rapping granny somewhere in Wichita.

Those interested in registering should visit or call 316-683-7559.

If you go

Wichita Talentfest

What: A fundraiser for Medical Service Bureau that will put Wichita residents' talent on display

Where: Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

How much: Spectator admission is $10. Entrants also pay $10 and can sign up until Wednesday.

For more information, visit or call 316-683-7559.

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